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Riordan flattened by Sacred Heart Prep, suffers first loss under Adhir Ravipati

Riordan running back King-Njhsanni Wilhite (1) tries to escape a tackle from Shay O'Kelly (10) during Riordan's 35-7 loss to Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, Calif. on Sept. 17, 2022. | Courtesy Ryan Garcia/Riordan Athletics

At least the Riordan Crusaders didn’t have to worry too much about penalties on Saturday afternoon.

A week after getting flagged 16 times in a win over Tamalpais, they committed just five infractions for 41 yards against Sacred Heart Prep.

The relatively clean performance was at the very top of a short list of positives for the visiting Crusaders, who fell 35-7 to the host Gators in their final non-league contest.

“We just killed ourselves with way too many mistakes,” head coach Adhir Ravipati said. “Route busts, missed reads, missed assignments, just things like that.”

Sacred Heart Prep (3-1) outgained the Crusaders 353-230, and was more than doubling Riordan (2-1) up in yardage until a late 83-yard drive that broke the shutout against the Gators’ second-string defense. SHP led 14-0 after a quarter on Mitchell Taylor touchdown passes to Carter Shaw and Brandon Hsing, went into halftime with a 21-0 lead after Andrew Latu’s four-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left in the second quarter and stretched the lead to four touchdowns when Latu scored again less than four minutes into the third quarter. Teo Casares provided the final score of the day for the hosts on a one-yard plunge after Latu gained 47 yards on a screen pass.

“They did a good job in scheming up our defense. We weren’t playing disciplined enough in the box and we weren’t playing fast enough on the back end,” Ravipati said. “They were able to get the edges on us, which is what we wanted to force them to do, and credit to them, they made plays when they got there.”

SHP was held to just a single touchdown and two field goals in a season-opening loss at Sacred Heart Cathedral, but had no such trouble moving the ball against the Crusaders. Taylor completed seven of his nine passes for 176 yards and Latu was an absolute force, rushing 18 times for 95 yards. Hsing had three carries for 58 yards to go along with his 30-yard touchdown reception before leaving with an injury.

The Crusaders left Atherton with just one injury, but it was a significant one. Zachary Jones, who had seven catches for 42 yards, suffered what was believed to be a high ankle sprain late in the third quarter with his team trailing 35-0.

Riordan scored 31 points in a season-opening win over Granada and overcame flags to put up 48 last week at Tamalpais, but had no such offensive success against a Gators team that allowed 19.3 points per game last year and entered the day allowing just 11 per game in the young 2022 season. SHP forced three turnovers, with Shay O’Kelly recovering a bad snap in the first quarter and both Andrew Latu and Will Maxwell intercepting freshman quarterback Michael Mitchell Jr., who completed 12 of his 25 passes for 82 yards.

Riordan’s lone touchdown came with the final two minutes coming off the running clock as Charlie Johnson scored from a yard out. Johnson finished with 80 yards on 12 carries, all coming in the second half. King-Njhsanni Wilhite ran 13 times for 61 yards. Johnson’s 19-yard run in the fourth quarter was Riordan’s longest offensive play of the day. Before that, the Crusaders never had a pickup of more than 12 yards.

“You’re not gonna be able to just go into a game and generate explosive plays like we did the last couple weeks. Good teams are gonna make you drive the football, and we’re not consistent enough to do that right now,” Ravipati said. “We’re inconsistent at practice, we’re inconsistent in games and you can’t do that against a team like that.”

Ravipati’s postgame address to his team, which came in the aftermath of his most lopsided defeat since the second game of his head coaching career, was a mix of sharp criticism and motivation.

Riordan head coach Adhir Ravipati addresses his team after a 35-7 loss to Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, Calif. on Sept. 17, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“There’s that culture of what happens when you lose, and that’s something that we’re trying to break right now,” he said. “How are we going to respond? Are we gonna go back to the same way Riordan was, or are we gonna change it?”

“You’re gonna learn a lot more lessons in life from losses than you ever will from wins,” he added.

The Crusaders will have an opportunity to show what they’ve learned in just six days when they open West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) play with a visit to Valley Christian (1-2), a team they haven’t beaten since 2006.

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